LORD  BYRON  and  his  TIMES
Documents Biography Criticism

The Autobiography of William Jerdan
Ismael Fitzadam

Vol. I. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Introductory
Ch. 2: Childhood
Ch. 3: Boyhood
Ch. 4: London
Ch. 5: Companions
Ch. 6: The Cypher
Ch. 7: Edinburgh
Ch. 8: Edinburgh
Ch. 9: Excursion
Ch. 10: Naval Services
Ch. 11: Periodical Press
Ch. 12: Periodical Press
Ch. 13: Past Times
Ch. 14: Past Times
Ch. 15: Literary
Ch. 16: War & Jubilees
Ch. 17: The Criminal
Ch. 18: Mr. Perceval
Ch. 19: Poets
Ch. 20: The Sun
Ch. 21: Sun Anecdotes
Ch. 22: Paris in 1814
Ch. 23: Paris in 1814
Ch. 24: Byron
Vol. I. Appendices
Scott Anecdote
Burns Anecdote
Life of Thomson
John Stuart Jerdan
Scottish Lawyers
Sleepless Woman
Canning Anecdote
Southey in The Sun
Hood’s Lamia
Murder of Perceval
Vol. II. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary
Ch. 2: Mr. Canning
Ch. 3: The Sun
Ch. 4: Amusements
Ch. 5: Misfortune
Ch. 6: Shreds & Patches
Ch. 7: A Character
Ch. 8: Varieties
Ch. 9: Ingratitude
Ch. 10: Robert Burns
Ch. 11: Canning
Ch. 12: Litigation
Ch. 13: The Sun
Ch. 14: Literary Gazette
Ch. 15: Literary Gazette
Ch. 16: John Trotter
Ch. 17: Contributors
Ch. 18: Poets
Ch 19: Peter Pindar
Ch 20: Lord Munster
Ch 21: My Writings
Vol. II. Appendices
The Satirist.
Authors and Artists.
The Treasury
Morning Chronicle
Chevalier Taylor
Foreign Journals
Vol. III. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Literary Pursuits
Ch. 2: Literary Labour
Ch. 3: Poetry
Ch. 4: Coleridge
Ch 5: Criticisms
Ch. 6: Wm Gifford
Ch. 7: W. H. Pyne
Ch. 8: Bernard Barton
Ch. 9: Insanity
Ch. 10: The R.S.L.
Ch. 11: The R.S.L.
Ch. 12: L.E.L.
Ch. 13: L.E.L.
Ch. 14: The Past
Ch. 15: Literati
Ch. 16: A. Conway
Ch. 17: Wellesleys
Ch. 18: Literary Gazette
Ch. 19: James Perry
Ch. 20: Personal Affairs
Vol. III. Appendices
Literary Poverty
‣ Ismael Fitzadam
Mr. Tompkisson
Mrs. Hemans
A New Review
Debrett’s Peerage
Procter’s Poems
Poems by Others
Poems by Jerdan
Vol. IV. Front Matter
Ch. 1: Critical Glances
Ch. 2: Personal Notes
Ch. 3: Fresh Start
Ch. 4: Thomas Hunt
Ch. 5: On Life
Ch. 6: Periodical Press
Ch. 7: Quarterly Review
Ch. 8: My Own Life
Ch. 9: Mr. Canning
Ch. 10: Anecdotes
Ch. 11: Bulwer-Lytton
Ch. 12: G. P. R. James
Ch. 13: Finance
Ch. 14: Private Life
Ch. 15: Learned Societies
Ch. 16: British Association
Ch. 17: Literary Characters
Ch. 18: Literary List
Ch. 19: Club Law
Ch. 20: Conclusion
Vol. IV. Appendix
Gerald Griffin
W. H. Ainsworth
James Weddell
The Last Bottle
N. T. Carrington
The Literary Fund
Letter from L.E.L.
Geographical Society
Baby, a Memoir
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C. page 46.

My Dear Sir,

“I feel myself unable, Irishman and grateful as I am, adequately to express to you my thanks for your very handsome notice of my book in this day’s ‘Literary Gazette.’ I really could not have expected so much from your circumscribed limits and your valuable time, still less from the merits of the publication itself. May I beg you will accept a hasty acknowledgment, which, in the most studied form, would be imperfect
compared to my feelings. With respect to returning the rough copy of my book, I will have to request the favour of your accepting a complete one in return, as a public memorial of the esteem of your

“Faithful and obliged servant,

W. Jerdan, Esq.”

Sir, *****

“I have myself had sufficient personal experience of both your liberality and critical acuteness, to assure me that you have hastened to avail yourself of what cannot but have appeared a fortunate opportunity of doing an act at once of justice and humanity, so strangely and ungenerously deferred by the prejudiced and mercenary portion of the press; in short, that you have imitated the example of the good Samaritan towards genius in circumstances so truly extraordinary and inauspicious.

“Most truly yours,

“Monday Night.

My dear Sir,

“When your letter was left at No. 10, Adelphi Terrace, this evening, I was fortunately with Mr. Bell, who, on merely looking at the signature, handed it to me. I say fortunately, for on reading it there are passages which seem to imply that an appeal had been made to you of a nature not very spirited, nor very becoming the gratitude which I already owed to you. I should indeed deeply lament that any friend of mine could for a moment be led to suppose me capable of that species of trespass on the benevolence of a total stranger. No, my dear Sir, whatever were my expressions (and I know not what they were), I never could mean, expect, or accept, any assistance from you, except through the medium of the arrangement which yourself suggested, and so kindly volunteered to manage on my behalf. This arrangement, which comprehended the transfer, and probable revival, of the ‘Harp’ and the MS. ‘Lays on Land,’ I was encouraged to think, and did myself think, would
prove more or less productive; but our wishes very often mislead us, and both you and I may have allowed ours to go beyond reality. With respect to the ‘Harp,’ as you make no mention of it, I suppose nothing is to be expected. Of the ‘Lays,’ I can only say that to the specimens inserted in your ‘
Gazette,’ I could add at present a good many others; but the bulk of my MSS. being at some considerable distance from London, I cannot bring them into action sooner than a fortnight or three weeks. It is certainly, as you remark, quite reasonable that there should be something to show; but I could engage the production of the necessary quantity of materials, if what I have already written could be considered any guarantee of their merit as compositions.

“I believe I mentioned to you the Irish demand for the ‘Harp,’ since which I have had letters from that quarter, stating an increased sale, so that I hope to find the first edition (if I have been treated fairly), now at least, completely gone. I shall linger in town till towards the end of the week, to see further, and if you think anything can, under all the circumstances, be done, may I beg to hear from you yet once again; but address myself, pray, and direct to ‘Mr. Fitzadam, care of H. N. Bell, Esq., 10, Adelphi Terrace,’ by post, if the speediest and most convenient to yourself.

“Whatever may be the result, your disinterested and generous friendship will ever have my sincerest gratitude and esteem.

“Most faithfully, my dear Sir,
“Yours, &c,

“Thursday Morning.

My Dear Sir,

“For some days past I have very anxiously expected a line or two from you, touching our projected poetical operations. Conformably to your suggestion, I wish to transfer the copyright of the ‘Harp,’ and the unsold part of the impression, if any, to Longman and Co., together with the ‘Lays on Land,’ in case they would think themselves justified in advancing any present
consideration for the whole. To use the most unlimited candour with you (for you have made one feel that confidence in your friendship, which long intimacy does not always warrant), I am at this moment utterly destitute of any other resource to enable me to remain here, unless by still further encroachments on the much abused generosity of one friend, the only one, who knows my situation, and without whose assistance I verily believe I should long since have fallen a victim to misfortune. If nothing tangible (as your silence appears to indicate) is likely to come from the proposed plan, I must leave London forthwith, and await a more auspicious moment. As you will be in town tomorrow, I beg you will leave a few words in reply to this at the ‘
Literary Gazette’ Office, where I will call for them. I am glad to find there has been a considerable order for the ‘Harp’ from Ireland. I have made some progress in preparing the ‘Lays’ for the press, but am much retarded by personal inconveniences and privations, from which my health suffers deeply. If gratitude for your goodness did not so entirely engross my mind, I should certainly feel compunction for all this gratuitous trouble; but your humanity will dispense with apologies.

“Believe me, my dear Sir,
“Most sincerely and faithfully,
“Yours, &c,


My Dear Sir,

Mr. Longman is still confined at Hampstead. I have consulted with my other partners respecting Fitzadam’s poems, and they are not inclined to advance money on the speculation. Warren, I have no doubt, will undertake the work on your recommendation; at all events, I hope you will not experience any inconvenience in the business. Accept our best thanks for your friendly attention, and believe me,

“Yours most truly,


The two following extracts, whilst negotiations were pending, portray so forcibly the anxieties of genius, that I cannot refuse
them a place for literary illustration in a work chiefly devoted to that end:—

“I take the liberty of leaving the MS. poems, so far as I have yet been able to collect and copy, for your inspection and further pleasure. Will you forgive me if I confess that it is not without considerable hesitation that I now venture to intrude this MS. on you after so many days silence on your part, and uneasy suspense on mine. In strict delicacy, I feel as if I ought to have awaited a communication from you, and so, in fact, I have till literally sick of hope deferred. As business required your presence in town on Friday last, I had flattered myself you would do me the favour to call, agreeable to my intimated wish, and as in your letter you substituted no other point of meeting where I could deliver to you the MS., which you were good enough to state you would bring to Paternoster Row that day, I remained, in consequence, the whole of Friday and Saturday in my room, in momentary expectation of seeing you ascend. Your more important and indispensable duties, no doubt, deprived me of that gratification, as well as of the pleasure of otherwise hearing from you since. May I hope that you will, in the way, and at the time most convenient to yourself, inform me of the result.

Oh, would I were among the bowers
Thy waters, Witham! love to lave,
Where Botolph’s far-distinguish’d towers
Look out upon the German wave;
There is a star upon that stream—
A flower upon those banks there blows,
Heaven cannot boast a lovelier beam,
Nor earth possess a sweeter rose.
How blest were I, how more than blest,
To sit me down those scenes among,
And there, the cot’s contented guest,
Divide my life ’twixt love and song.
To guard thee, sweet, and in thine ears
Plead passion, not perchance in vain,—
The very vision costs me tears
Of mingled tenderness and pain!
Alas! how different is my lot!
To drag out being far from thee,
Far from that dear, that sacred spot,
Which Witham laves in tears like me.
But, pilgrim of whatever shore,
No fate from thee my soul shall tear,
And even when life itself’s no more
My spirit will be with thee there.
Son of the storm, along the “vasty” world
Of wild, unstable waters wafted far,
Or obvious to the hissing death-bolt, hurl’d
Thro’ the red bursting of confronted war,
Was happiness—for then my worshipp’d star,
The sacred one of duty, brightly shone,
And, audible above the common jar,
My country’s voice and honour hail’d me on;
While hoarded hopes of glory to be won
Enhanced the strife where death and danger were,
To sternest ectasy!—but all is gone—
And nought is left me now to hope or dare—
Becalm’d upon thy stagnant pool, despair!
With not one attribute of life save breath—
And misery—friendless in my sordid shed,
Like the lone captive stretch’d on dungeon bed,
Numbering the slow sands as they creep away,
What recks to me such worse than living death?
Such gloomy eve of no inglorious day?
Oh, bitter doom! bitterer for unforeseen!
Within whose Upas shadow joy—hope—nay
The very spirit rots in dull decay—
Is life then stript to this sere, leafless thing?—
Beams of my morning! blossoms of my noon!
Whither, and wherefore, are ye fled so soon?
Weep, fond enthusiast! weep thy wither’d spring—
God! that my grave, as was my birth, had been
Amidst the living billows’ mighty swing,
Or pall’d beneath the battle’s blazing wing;
Then had I ’scaped this agony of keen,
Keen suffering—’scaped the curse to bear, by turns,
Ingratitude, that with a stony eye,
Like the vile, heartless Levite, passeth by—
Affected pity’s mockery—the spurns
Of pamper’d pride—perchance, the stings of poverty.
“47, Bedford-street, Strand.

“Dear Sir,

“Now that four tedious weeks have elapsed in painful expectation of the promised ‘prompt decision’ from the Row, your goodness will pardon me if I venture at last to ask, has anything yet been done? The natural impression on my mind, from such an ominous interval, is, that your friends have rejected the MS. Indeed, I concluded as much from the expiration of the first week, and, in consequence, wholly discontinued my notes of preparation till I should hear from you on the subject. Your silence has desolated me, and under the no small aggravation of knowing that you must have passed at least once a week within three doors of my lodging. May I intreat a line by return of post, to explain, as I have been detained here under hopes and sufferings, neither of which it is desirable to prolong. “With great sincerity, dear Sir,

“Yours, &c,


“I must not omit most humbly to thank you for your generous goodness in permitting me to draw on you—a liberty of which I could never avail myself, unless I was satisfied that you were perfectly indemnified by the trade.”

I at last made an arrangement with Mr. Warren, and the author writes in somewhat better spirits:—

“Wednesday Evening.

“I could not, my dear Sir, be otherwise than satisfied with any arrangement made by you, and I have the best reasons to be so, with the one you mention, so far as it goes. I have but one regret on the occasion, and that is, that I, who had no sort of claim on your friendship, and no capacity of repaying it, should have been the means of inflicting on you so vexatious a commission as this has proved. Your goodness, so unlike what I have hitherto experienced of this world’s character, quite
overpowers me. I will be at
Warren’s on Friday, at twelve, and will wait your coming.

“I am, my dear Sir, more than I can express,
“Your grateful and obliged servant.”